Monday, June 30, 2014

A Three Show Weekend

I seem to be having a lot of those these days.  This was a three show weekend, but a four show week, which started with A Chorus Line at the Music Circus on Tuesday.  A Chorus Line is one of those old war horses that everybody loves and when I sat down to write the review after it was over, I was surprised at now negative my review was.

It was no reflection on the performers, who were amazing (they must lose 5 lbs a performance, or more!), but having now seen the show in the round, I think it should never be performed that way.  At least not at Music Circus.   For one thing, everybody is mic-ed and all of the sound comes from the same place in the middle of the stage.  But the performers either stand in a circle on the stage, or in one of several of the aisles around it and you spend so much time trying to figure out who is speaking, you never get a chance to form the emotional connection that I feel that show needs in order to make the ending so moving.

Second, the finale was staged for this line of wonderfully crisp dancers to stand in front of a stage-wide mirror and perform this amazing dance, which builds and builds as more of the performers joining them.  On a round stage you can't do that.  The choreographer did what could be done, by having them form this circle, which spins and spins and spins and is really quite impressive, but it paled in comparison to the mirror.

So my review was 2/3 negative and 1/3 positive and I begged forgiveness for being a "cranky old critic."

The next show we saw was actually the second show in a festival presented by the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble.  It was their very first musical, She Loves Me, which was based on a play called "Parfumerie" written by Miklos Laszlo in 1937.  I'm sure you know this play.  Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan (yes, that's how it's spelled) did it as The Shop Around the Corner, Judy Garland and Van Johnson did it as In the Good Old Summertime and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan brought it into the electronic age with You've Got Mail.

I really wanted to give this company an encouraging review and fortunately, it was not difficult.  This was a professional quality show, with excellent voices, great acting, a passable set, good costumes.  This is their first venture out of the Shakespeare realm and they hit it out of the ball park.  I worry that they have bit off more than they can chew, moving from a teeny venue that seats about 50 outside in a gazebo into a nearly 400 seat theater (but with soft seats! and air conditioning! and no bug spray needed!).  I would very much like them to succeed and thank goodness I could write that rave review.

The next night we went to see the second part of this two-show festival, Much Ado About Nothing, chosen because the director(s) felt that the two plots were somewhat similar--star crossed lovers hating each other and not realizing that they really love each other.  And it works.  Of course I'm never as enthusiastic about Shakespeare as I am about musical theater, but I was happy to give this a positive review as well (I just didn't call this show "awesome," as I did the first!)

Tonight we went to The Hound of the Baskervilles.   Forget any thought of the traditional Sherlock Holmes.  This is what the show would look like if produced by the Three Stooges.  Two hours of slapstick.  I'm not particularly crazy about slapstick, but this is good enough that it even had me rolling in the aisles (and that is a sight you really never want to see!)

Now I have a whole week off with no shows, but three shows the following week.

I went to see my mother in the morning and was regaling her with tales of the shows we saw and she seemed to be enjoying my stories.  She asked "do you write a report after you see them?"  I said (for the 100th time) that I did.  And she almost told me that "my daughter does that too," but then caught herself and realized that I was her daughter.   That hasn't happened before.

We drove to the show tonight with the fellow we commute with.  I'm going to start calling him "Mr. Wonderful" because that's how I'm sure he sees himself.   I would hesitate telling this story if I thought there were a chance he'd read it, but since he doesn't know about Funny the World and wouldn't read it if he did because it's ME writing it, not him, I will anyway.  He brought a childhood friend with him to the show tonight.  They got in the car and he introduced Walt and me to the friend and mentioned that they had been friends since childhood and that they had gone to summer camp together and what fun they had had.
I mentioned our friend who made a movie about his years at summer camp, a movie that has been shown on local public television and has won awards in film festivals.   I had only spoken about two sentences when I realized that Mr. Wonderful and his friend were talking to each other, completely ignoring me.  Once I had started my story and it wasn't about him, he lost interest. I am still angry about that.  I almost never try to talk with him any more because, as I have mentioned before, no matter what you say, he has done it better, more often, and with more important people.  He doesn't listen to what you say, he waits for you to take a breath so he can cut in with a totally unrelated story that features him.  It took him ten years to finally realize that I do not read the Sacramento paper.   Every time we rode together, he would ask me if I had seen such-and-such in the Sacramento paper.  I would say "We don't see the Sacramento paper" and he would go on to tell me what he was going to tell me anyway.  I think it has finally been about a year since he last asked me about the Sacramento paper.  He's a very interesting person that I would like to like, but jeez...he's just so damn frustrating!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Stealing


Travel anywhere, where would it be?

South Africa

Meet anyone, who would it be?

Jon Stewart

Bring anyone dead back to life, who would it be?

It has to be two -- Paul and David

Be anyone for a day, who would it be?

Bill Gates (as long as I would have access to his check book)

Get anything for free for the rest of your life what would it be?


Change one thing about your life what would it be

I would prefer not to be the mother of two dead sons.

Have any superpower what would it be?


Be any animal for a day which would you be?

An elephant...I want to truly understand elephant societies (also, I think it would be cool to pick up things with your nose)

Date anyone who would it be?

I'm too old to date anyone.

Change one thing about the world what would it be?

Clean water and sanitation facilities for everyone.

Live in any fictional universe which would you choose?

Well, with Claire and Jaime on Fraser's Ridge, of course (away from all the battles).

Eliminate one of your human needs which would you get rid of?

I kinda like all my needs.

Change one thing about your physical appearance what would it be?

I'd like to be magically the right size.

Change one of your personality traits which would you choose?

Ah now, none of that.  If I admit which one, I'll have to work on changing it.   I'm on to your tricks.

Be talented at anything instantly what would you choose?

Understand everything about photography.

Forget one event in your life which would you choose?

The one where Peggy decided she hated me (whichever event that was -- I still don't know)

Erase an event from history (make it so it never happened) which would you choose?

The temptation to reverse the 2000 Supreme Court decision handing the presidency to George Bush is tempting, but I believe in the butterfly effect, how everything in this world is connected.   If you erase one event from history how will that affect the GOOD things today? Better not mess with the past.

Have any hair/eye/skin color, which would you choose?

If I were younger, I would have auburn hair, green eyes, and that lovely Irish complexion.  (In other words, I want to be Maureen O'Hara in the 50s)

Be any weight/body type, which would you choose?

Thin enough to buy clothes, heavy enough not to look anoretic.

Live in any country/city, where would you choose?

I'm happy where I am, but if I had to choose some other place, I would pick London.

Change one law in your country, which would you change?

Make same gender marriage irrevocably legal in all states.

Be any height, which would you choose?

What I used to be -- 5'7-1/2"  I hate not being able to reach high shelves any more.

Have any job in the world, which would you choose?

I'd still prefer to be retired.

Have anything appear in your pocket right now, what would it be?

Something chocolate (but wrapped, so it wouldn't melt)

Have anyone beside you right now, who would it be?

Paul, because I have so many questions to ask him about his death.  And I miss our long, in-depth conversations.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gadgets and Gizmos

Years ago, shortly after Walt and I were married, I was in a store and overheard two girls talking.  One had a little gadget in her hand.  It was this little metal thing with a little plastic box on it.   Apparently you put a chunk of cheese in the box and moved the box along the metal track across a grate that grated your cheese.  I had a cheese grater -- I still have it; I got it before we got married -- but this girl spoke so glowingly about this little box grater that I decided I couldn't live without it.

I just checked my junk drawer in the kitchen to see if I still have it, because I almost never throw anything away, but apparently I finally got rid of it.  I never used it.  Not once.  The cheese grater was my go-to thing to turn blocks of cheese into grated cheese and I never had a chunk of cheese small enough to fit into my new gadget.
But I've always been a sucker for the newest gizmo to come down the line (I thought there might be a different definition for "gadget" and "gizmo" but they are essentially the same, "a usually small mechanical or electronic device," though "gadget" adds "with a practical use but often thought of as a novelty")

What has saved me from being really bad is (a) I never watch QVC or any other selling channel, and (b) I feel guilty when I spend the money.  But I do watch infomercials and often succumb to the lures and the promises. To tell the truth, I have rarely been disappointed.

I didn't buy the "Magic Bullet" mixer, though I saw the infomercials a lot and was tempted, and then surprised when I received it as a Christmas gift from someone.  That was a gadget I used almost every day and loved.  When my mother moved to Davis and I cleaned up "all this crap" out of her house, I took her mini Cuisinart chopper, which duplicated so many of the Magic Bullet features that I finally donated the Magic Bullet to the SPCA Thrift Shop.  I sometimes miss it, but mostly am happy with the more powerful Cuisinart.

I bought something called "Heeltastic," which was a cream guaranteed to reduce callouses on the foot and I have to admit that works great.   In fact, I have found it for sale at our local CVS, which makes me very happy.

Those pedi-eggs were less successful.  Not a bust, but I used one twice and never again.

I have been torn about those Orgreenic cooking pans and was almost going to buy one until I read the reviews and learned that after the first few things you cook in it, it doesn't have the non-stick quality that I would be buying it for.

One of my favorite gadget that I bought recently is my Wonder Bag, that pillow-looking thing that will cook your dinner, without any energy source, in a few hours.  

wonderbag.jpg (64413 bytes)

It was designed to help women in 3rd World Countries (specifically now in South Africa) who spend most of their day cooking over open fires.  The idea is simple.  You mix ingredients, boil on the stove for about 15 minutes, then cover and place in the bag, which closes tightly.  Then just leave it until you are ready to eat -- usually about as long something would cook in a crock pot.  Everything I have made with it has turned out great and actually preferable to the crock pot.   Rice is the best, much better than my rice cooker and no sticking to the sides of the pot.  I mainly bought it because I was curious, but also because for every bag sold, another bag is given to a woman in So. Africa and I figured it was a good way to contribute and get something myself.

stonewave.jpg (6763 bytes)My latest gadget is a StoneWave.  I think I saw this on Amazon. It's a little stoneware pot with a lid that you can make one serving dishes, everything from meatloaf to chocolate mousse, and you can cook more than one in the microwave at a time.  It's small and will fit in the palm of your hand.

Actually, I thought if it really worked it would be a great way to split meals for Walt and me and cook mine with and his without onions.  After nearly 50 years, a perfect compromise!  

It came a few days ago and we've been having fun playing with it.   Walt loves poached eggs and this is an effortless poached egg without having to wrestle a raw egg into some sort of shape in a pot of boiling water.  Another dish they call an omelette, but it's really just scrambled eggs with your choice of things in it.  I've only made a cheese omelette so far, but it turned out great.

I made a dijon salmon the other night that was perfect.  I almost never cook fish so I'm pleased to add this to my repertoire.

I can think of all sorts of vegetable dishes with and without onions that I will be cooking in this little pot (which is also non-stick and dishwasher safe).   Last night I made a banana thing with rum and brown sugar, since Walt wasn't home.   It turned out fine.  I still want to try the "chocolate mousse," (which, from the pictures, I think is more a chocolate cake).  I'm searching the web for recipes designed for the StoneWave or which can be adapted and I am pleased that I succumbed to media pressure and bought my latest gizmo.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Today at Logos

glads.jpg (91183 bytes)I did something today I've never done before...and you'll read about it later in this entry.  But first, I loved the arrangement of gladiolas that Susan had on the front table this morning.  You don't see glads all that often and these were lovely.

Sandy and I had our normal 20 minute visit while she was packing up and I was ready to take over for her.  She had a moderate morning, with an hour or so where she had no customers whatsoever.

But we were comparing lives again and I discovered that her brother, younger than she, was killed on his honeymoon, so I told her about Karen and we talked about kids and dying too young.

It was cool that she remembered Lawsuit and knew how popular the band was, but she didn't know Paul was dead.

There was only one customer in the shop when she left, a young Korean girl who was beaming all the time as she went through the book shelves.  She ended up buying six books by authors such as Mark Twain, G.K.Chesterton, etc.  All categorized as Literature rather than Contemporary Fiction (Peter is very clear about the difference!)

PurpleRed.jpg (61919 bytes)I looked up and saw a woman in red on one side of the bookcases, looking at travel books, and a woman in purple on the other side looking at the foreign language books.  The contrast was striking, but I didn't think about taking a picture until Purple had moved...and I realized they were together.

Mother and her adorable daughter came in and Mom made the girl ask me what she wanted.  She said, haltingly, "Do. you. have. books. of. children?"  I thought I detected a hint of a French accent.  I showed her where the kids books were.  She looked through them for awhile, then came out and tried to tell me something, which her mother translated in a definite French accent as that they would be back later.  The girl turned around and said "Thank You."  She was so cute and obviously her mother is doing a wonderful job training her to be polite!

Red and Purple were now ready to check out and we discussed the new bag policy that we are starting on July 1.  There was a sign which talked about it.

Bags.jpg (62254 bytes)

This is a new city-wide policy and there was an article about it in the paper the other day which lists the exceptions to the rules, which were so complicated, I gave up reading.  I'll bring my reusable bags, I'll pay if I have to pay, and I'll charge for people who want bags at Logos. This is a policy I first saw in Monterey a year or so ago.  Good ecological policy.  Will take some getting used to.  The problem for small businesses like Logos is that they have purchased biodegradable bags, which cost the store 60 cents apiece and they are only charging 25 cents (some stores are charging 10 cents).  I don't have a clue how it's going to cut into the profits of the store. Most people don't ask for bags.

Next came a young girl looking like the cookie cutter starlets you see everywhere today.  Shoulder length brown hair, dressed all in black with a huge brown shoulder bag, a pretty, if undistinguished looking face.  It surprised me that she was looking for Kafka's "Metamorphosis." I must stop making snap judgements about people based on their appearance!

A few people came and went without buying anything, then a tall bearded man bought a book of short stories and needed a bathroom.  Our bathroom isn't suitable for customers, so I sent him across the street, but when he left he turned in the opposite direction.

Next came a Peter Ustinoff doppelganger with a thin woman with mousy brown hair.  She was probably on the low end of middle age, but she had the leathery, weathered skin of someone who spends a lot of time outdoors. He bought four bargain books and a self help, touchy-feely book.

I saw that I had missed a call from Walt, since I now turn my cell phone ringer off when I am at work.  I called him back and he was in the car on the way to the opera in San Francisco.  He had called to find out if I wanted him to bring my cane, but it was too late now.

A bubbly middle aged woman who just LOVES Logos  bought a bargain book and asked if I read thrillers or "more sophisticated" books.   I assured her, as I looked at her James Patterson book, that I definitely preferred thrillers.  I was, in fact, reading another book by Ruth Rendell.  This is the third of hers that I have pulled off the shelf in the past few weeks.  Last week there weren't any of her books short enough to read in a day, but this was just the right size.

There was a lot of activity outside at the bargain tables and then they all started coming in.  I think they all bought some books from outside and some from inside, which is why we have bargain tables!  I offered one woman a bookmark but after thinking about it she decided she wouldn't take one because she felt that it needed to go to a "broader audience" than she could give it!

Someone commented on it being hot in the store, so I closed the front door and turned on the a/c.  I don't notice the heat any more  since I have that wonderful fan sitting on the desk.

We briefly had a mashup at the mystery section, with four different people all looking at the books.

A woman bought "Letters of a Portuguese Nun," the title of which sounded so interesting I decided to check it out on Amazon when I got home.

The bookmark lady came back for "round 2," as she called it, this time buying several fiction books and a Spanish dictionary.  After she left, I went to continue reading my Ruth Rendell book and couldn't find it anywhere.  I finally decided I either gave it to her with her stack of books, or I charged her for it.   In any event, she now has it (and I ordered it for my Kindle so I could finish reading it!)  I felt pretty dumb.

A mom with a toddler and a daughter who might have been around 8 or 9 came in.   The toddler had hair as curly as Lacie, but darker, and was wearing the cutest navy blue Oshkosh pants, but she wasn't cute whenever she had a tantrum, which was whenever Mom tried to take her book from her so I could ring it up.  I thought of the contrast between her and the French girl earlier.

My friend showed up at 4:30 and bought a book on Wild Bill Hickock and a German novel.  I confessed my book misadventure to him.

My last customer was a young man with lots of tattoos who ought three biographies:   Ann Boleyn, Che Guevarra and Woody Guthry.  Now THAT's diversity!

My friend Pat volunteered to pick me up so I didn't have to take the bus home, and I was so grateful to her.  The dogs were happy to see me and I had a weird dinner and then settled in to finish Ruth Rendell.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Something Exciting

"What are you doing exciting for the rest of the afternoon?" she asked.  I had already answered that question more than half a dozen times in the apartment.  Now it appeared it was going to be the topic through our weekly lunch too.  And it was.  Sometimes she would interrupt me while I was telling her for the xxth time that I was going to finish writing my review and take a nap to ask the question again.

Her brain these days is funny.  Sometimes it amazes me with what she remembers.  She remembered to tell me that Jeri had called her earlier in the day I was visiting.  When she was talking to Jeri she remembered that Phil had been to visit her two weeks before. She remembered that she had been sleeping when the housekeeper came this morning so her bed wasn't made and the housekeeper was going to come back later to make the bed.

When it came time to order lunch, she couldn't remember how big the fruit salad was (though she has eaten it every. single. day. for the past year).   She couldn't remember if it was a plate or a bowl and the waitress had to show her how big the plate was.  Then she wasn't sure if she could eat that much.  Though. she. has. eaten. it. every. single. day. for the past year.

When we got back from lunch, I went to use the bathroom and discovered she was out of toilet paper.  I told her that I noticed she was out of TP and she said "Oh that's right--I was going to call you about that.  I need to start making a list" (of course she has been saying she is going to start making a list ever since she got to Atria, but I was impressed she had remembered she was out of toilet paper).

I told her I would run up to CVS and get her a package.   She said she would have to pay me, but she didn't know if she had checks and she would have to call Ed and ask him to bring her checks.  I reminded her that he had brought her checks and that they were in her purse.  She said she'd get the checks out while I was gone so she could pay me when I got back.

When I got back, she was amazed that I realized she was out of toilet paper because she meant to call me about it and she needed to start keeping a list.  She told me she needed to pay me but she didn't know if she had any checks and she would have to ask Ed to bring her some.  Then she asked me what exciting thing I was going to be doing for the rest of the afternoon.


I'm not depressed about these visits, really.  They just make me sad.  She would absolutely hate it if she knew what she is like today.   This is the thing she talked with me about for years...if she ever got like...this...could I please shoot her, she would joke.  Only now she is like this, and I have no plans for matricide, or to tell her that her worst fears have come true.  (Now her worst fear is having something happen that will force her to be incapacitated and dependent on someone else for her care.)

I love it when family come to visit her because it gives her a new audience and she actually can carry on a conversation that doesn't involve their exciting activities for the rest of the day.

One positive thing today, though, is that I don't think she mentioned "hunnert" once.  Now THAT makes it a good day!

Today Walt and I have been married 49 years.  We are celebrating in a romantic fashion that is typical for us.  Walt is going to the opera in San Francisco.  I am working at Logos and then taking the bus home because Walt will have the car.  I will have dinner alone and I will be asleep by the time he gets home, around midnight.  This is pretty much the way we celebrated last year too (minus the bus ride), but we went out to dinner the next night.

However, I have shows to review Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, so I'm not sure if we're going to get dinner out at all.  We'll have to do a super duper fancy dinner a year from now, when the 50th rolls around.

The story of our wedding is here
The story of our wedding is here

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Have You Ever

Been pulled over?
Three times, that I remember. Twice it was for speeding, both times I managed to talk my way out of a ticket. I don’t speed any more. Last time I was pulled over it was for going too slow. Clearly I have problems with speed regulation!

Dyed your hair?
Back in the 1970s I tried putting a red rinse on my hair (I always wanted to be Maureen O’Hara). It just made my hair have a fake purplish tint to it and I didn’t do it again.

Pulled an all-nighter?
In college I remember staying up all night and taking a lot of No Doze. Didn't help at all and I felt awful in the morning. I’ve been up all night a few times since then, but not for study or work or anything noble. The last time I was up all night was the night Paul died.

Baked a cake?
You might say that, since I spent 8 years as a cake decorator! Yes, I have made many, many, many cakes in my day.

Fallen down in public?
Unfortunately, yes. The last time was in Rochester, New York, after a church service I attended with Steve. I slipped on a patch of ice and landed with a thud. People expressed concern and Steve, the sweet, gentle, helpful man waved them off and said "that’s OK–she has plenty of padding."

Been caught making out?
Not really. My father once was furious because my then-boyfriend had lipstick on his face when he brought me home. That’s as close as I’ve come to being "caught."  (Of course my father's ire was rather disingenuous, but I didn't find out until many years later that he and my mother had been intimate long before they married)

Taken a pregnancy test?
Yes, I used to do it all the time. I had to stop, however, because every time I took a pregnancy test, I had a baby a few months later. I finally figured out what was causing it.

Broken a bone?
I’ve broken a couple of toes (once by dropping frozen beans and once dropping a frozen roast.  I stopped using the freezer and haven't broken anything since) and fractured my shoulder at the time of my bike accident when my shoulder was dislocated.

Had braces?
That’s one dental joy I missed. I was blessed with straight teeth. In fact, when I went to a new dentist for the first time, at age 12, he insisted on taking me to an orthodontist in the building to show him how straight my teeth were.

Gone skinny dipping?
Once, in my father’s swimming pool. He made such a huge deal about Walt and me going skinny dipping and then afterwards was so lecherous about it that I refused to ever do it again.

Been to Disneyland?
More times than I want to think about. We took each kid when they were 4-5 years old, and we took most of the foreign students when they were here. That's a lot of visits for someone who doesn't really like rides. The last time I went to Disneyland was when I was giving Peggy a tour of California. My life will be complete if I never have to go again.

Eaten a Krispy Kreme donut?
Yes. It was HIGHLY overrated. Much too sweet. I prefer the local donut shop, or Winchell’s or Dunkin’ Donuts. I think the only way I would like Krispy Kreme is if I had the donuts warm.

Screamed during a scary movie?
No. I’m extremely inhibited. I did, however, give an involuntary and audible intake of breath at one point during The Sixth Sense, and another time during Topkapi.

Been to a professional sporting event?
Sure. Giants games, 49er games, horse racing in Dublin. Not a lot, but my share.

Slept till noon?
Heavens no!  I feel bad when I sleep until 8.

Been arrested?

Opened Christmas presents early?
Yeah. I confess. I have.

Played Scrabble?
Bwahahaha. My friend Joan and I have been playing on-line Scrabble and Word with Friends daily for more than five years now. Also used to play a lot when I was younger.   I also play Word with Friends with a lot of other people too.

Rolled down a hill?
Yeah. As a kid. I still remember the sensation of rolling down a long grassy hill, with blue skies and fluffy white clouds overhead. Kinda like those wheels of cheese they roll down the hill in England every year.

Toilet papered someone's house?
No. And after watching how difficult it was to get TP out of a tree, I’m very glad that I never did it.

Laughed so hard you cried?
Many times!

Been hit on by someone too old?
My history teacher, my first year of college. It was one of the reasons I quit school. I didn't know enough to talk with my counselor and figured that since I had failed his class because I never attended, I couldn't possibly get out of the hole, so just quit.

Gotten seasick?
Oh yeah! We had a memorable ride in a boat out to watch whales and I got gloriously sick. So did almost everyone else on the boat, including the captain!  My friend Diane, to her dying day, never let me forget how miserable she was on that trip.   Gee, I miss her....

Eaten food that fell on the floor?
I go by the 5 second rule.

Given a hickey?
Not that I remember.

Shared a sucker with your dog?
Not a sucker, but I have shared ice cream with puppies. Not dogs, but puppies. They lost the privilege after they lost "puppy breath."  I do, however, let Polly either lick my ice cream bowl or eat the end of my ice cream cone (shhh...don't let Lizzie and Sheila know)

Been in an accident?
The worst was my bike accident in 2003.

Had chickenpox?
Yes, as a child.

Shopped at Home Depot?
I thought that was a requirement for living in suburbia.

Spied on your neighbors?

Plucked your eyebrows?
When I was still living in Berkeley and working at the University. It didn’t last long.  Now I couldn't pluck them if I wanted to because my vision isn't good enough to see what I'm doing!

Ridden in a limo?
Only once –- to and from the cemetary for my sister’s funeral. My kids, however, have rented stretch limos for various special events.

Had a pet fish?
Oh so long ago! 

Lied about your age?
My friend Jeri and I shared a fake temporary driver’s license when we were 20 and the owner of the license turned 21. But I don’t think I’ve lied about it since then. I am happy with my age.

Bought something at a yard sale?
 Of course, but not lately.  I think the last thing I bought at a yard sale was this crazy cow spike that went into a garden for decoration.  I bought it for my friend Mike (now long deceased) because he used to be known as the "hateful old cow."  Only problem was that I bought it in Maryland and Mike lived in Texas and we had to go home to California first...and the spike just barely fit in the suitcase.

Been drunk?
I had my days during college and young married years. Now I almost never drink at all.

Had a cavity?
I keep telling my dentist that I probably put two of her children through college. When I was very young and going to my first dentist, he didn’t believe in taking x-rays and I was very proud of the fact that I only had 4 cavities, until I went to a more modern dentist, at age 12, who did x-rays and found twenty cavities.  Then I started seeing Cindy after 20 years of dental neglect.  So yeah...I've had cavities.   None now, though!

Been ice skating?
I took skating lessons from Olympic skater Harris Legg. It was one of our Girl Scouts activities. I was terrible at it, but I did have fun skating on weekends at Sutro Baths in San Francisco.

Handed out candy to trick-or-treaters?
Oh so many years!  No more, though.  It's just too hard to answer the door with 3 dogs in the house that you can't lock up.

Been in the hospital?
Six times. Five times to give birth, once for tonsils (that was the first time; I was 4-1/2)

Had food come out your nose?
Yeah. I don’t remember what it was or how it happened, but it was probably from laughing too hard.

Had a massage?
After my accident in 2003, Marta had me come in to the massage school to let the students practice on me, but it turned out her instructor did my massage.  It was wonderful.   I had one other massage a few months later from Marta. I suspect I'd be too intimidated to get a massage from anyone else.

Locked your keys in the car?
The last time it happened, I didn’t lock the keys in the car. I left them in the car and Lizzie, who was jumping all over the car, managed to lock the door. That’s the last time I give the dog my car keys!

Ridden a horse?
Yes, but not since I was a kid.

Been lost?
Let’s put it this way –- I always allow for "getting lost" time whenever I drive anywhere.

Held a $100 bill?
My grandmother once let me hold a $100 bill in a bank and told me I might never see one again. But when I was working, I handled big bills all the time.

Been to Europe?
Yes – the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Finland, Estonia and all those countries along the Rhine and Danube.

Slept Naked?
A couple of times.

Hogged the covers on purpose?
Of course not. I am a good person and I like to share (and I have a bridge I’ll be happy to sell you!) It's all moot at this point, though, since I sleep on the couch and if there is any "covers hogging" going on, it's Polly who is hogging them.

Played golf?
Only miniature golf.

Watched the Weather Channel?
Yeah. Heck –- I’ll watch anything.

Had a manicure?
Twice. The day before my wedding and the day before my sister-in-law’s wedding, some 40+ years later.

Made mashed potatoes?
All the time. I would never make instant potatoes.

Been to the circus?
Yes. I think we’ve taken the kids to the circus a couple of times and my parents took me a couple of times. However, after all the information about the treatment of animals in circuses, I don’t think I could ever enjoy one again–unless it was Cirque de Soleil (which I saw in Houston several years ago).

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Doggie Dementia

Maybe I've just been spending too much time at Atria and other facilities, and maybe I see dementia everywhere I look, but I swear that, at 12 (84 in human years), Sheila is developing dementia.  Because of the barking problem, we have blocked off the dog door to the back yard more than we have in the past, keeping the dogs inside until we're ready to let them out through the sliding glass door.  But when we do open the dog door and let the dogs out, and Sheila comes back in, she can't remember that the dog door is open.  She doesn't even try to go into my office to see if she can get out.  She just stands at the sliding glass door and scratches at it.

Her mealtime has changed too.  Forever, I have fed Polly in the kitchen, Lizzie by the water cooler, and Sheila in the family room.  In fact, Sheila has  eaten in the family room for all 10 of the years we've had her.   When I begin dishing up dinner for the dogs, mixing in the spoonful of cottage cheese that they get, she sits, as she always has, near her eating spot and waits patiently for me.  I feed Lizzie first, then Polly and then Sheila.

When I feed Sheila, she watches me intently, as if she's not quite sure what to do.  If I leave the family room, she follows me.  She has reached a point where she won't eat unless I'm actually sitting my chair watching her.   Then she scarfs it down like she always did. But if I get up, she'll stop eating again.

These guys are so funny.  They say dogs thrive on routine, and these guys are thriving so much that it is they who have gotten US into a routine.  When they are out of water, Lizzie keeps poking me over and over again until I get up to see what's wrong--and it's always an empty water bowl.

(Sheila just licks her water bowl until I can't stand the noise any longer and get up to refill it.  Sheila, for whatever reason, would rather suck on mud than drink out of a full bowl that the other dogs use!)

All three dogs are very patient with my sleeping past what they think is their meal time, but the minute I touch the handle to lower the footrest on the recliner, Polly lets out a bark in the direction of the living room (where Lizzie usually is) and another bark in the direction of the back yard (where Sheila usually is) and both of them come running in.

I'm thinking of renaming Lizzie "Prewash" because whenever Walt or I load the dishwasher, she is there to lick remains of food she can reach off of the plates.  I have to admit Walt thinks this is cuter than I do (I often only half open the dishwasher while I'm gathering plates so she can't lick them.  I know they are sterilized while being washed, but I still don't always like it)

As for Polly, she and I are in a nesting war.  Polly must nest. She can't not nest.  I have put towels on my recliner so that she can dig in them and make a nest out of them instead of digging in the upholstery. When I think of it, I try to leave a quilt on the chair so she can nest in that, but if I don't leave the quilt, she digs in the towels and lumps them up to make her nest.

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But she watches me like a hawk.  She doesn't sleep in my lap so much any more, but as soon as I sit down (after smoothing out the towels again), she jumps off and goes to her little dog bed, from where she can watch my every move.  If I get up to answer the phone, get a drink of water, or go to the bathroom, when I return 2 minutes later, she has built her towel nest again and we go through it all over again.

Some day I should count how many times I have to smooth out her lumpy nest so I can sit in my recliner!

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Think she looks threatening?

Spent all afternoon waiting for a friend who sent a message last night that she would be in town today, apologized for contacting me at the last minute but said she really wanted to see me and would I be home?  I answered her message and never heard from her again, and as it is now 6 p.m. and she just posted pictures from a bar where she is with friends, I think it unlikely I will see her.  I'm not surprised, but I'm a tad pissed off about it!

Maybe she has transient dementia.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chit Chat

There is nothing better than a good conversation with someone about a subject you can both identify with.  I get that so seldom!

Last night at intermission of the show we were seeing, a few critics got in a corner and were talking, a bit about the show itself, but also about books and about writing.  Kel Munger and Patti Rogers both write for the Sacramento News and Review.  Kel, who is also a Journalism Professor at American River College, had recently posted a photo to Facebook about the books currently in this week's queue to read.

KelsBooks.jpg (80650 bytes)

I made a smartass comment about whether she was going to read those all in a week and she said, "No, that was the queue. The unread ones move up to this week. I read 11 books last week, not including five graphic novels. I'm a bit of a savant. I've read a book a day since I was 6 or 7.   I'm extremely weird, but in a good way"

She talked about a book she had just finished where a guy dies and then wakes up and starts his life over again. Kind of like "Groundhog Day."  Coincidentally, Patti (who, in addition to being a critic, also plays a mean game of Word With Friends and it frustrates the heck out of me that I rarely beat her!) had just finished Stephen King's "11/22/63," about a guy who hopes that by going back in time he can somehow prevent Kennedy's assassination.  (That is one of the next books I'm going to read.) 
And, ironically, I had just finished the Gabaldon book where all these time travelers know so much about history and how various events are going to play out and discover the futility of trying to do anything to change anything.  It was odd that we each had read 3 quite different books, but one of the key elements of the plot of each story was the same.

After the show, Patti and I were talking about writing and our process in writing.  I love talking to other writers because when I sit here alone in my office, a dog at my feet and a fan blowing at my face, and I write a sentence and then play solitaire or go get something to eat, then write another sentence and check 
Facebook or play a game of WordWithFriends, and then write something else and take a break to read part of my book, I get angry with myself that I can't be more disciplined and just write the bloody thing and be done with it.  However from reading things written by writers about writing, and from talking to people like Patti, I realize that I really am a writer and that many, many other writers go through the same process that I do.  What we are really doing is allowing our thoughts to gel and figuring out what we are going to write next, whether we are consciously doing that or not.

I also loved it that Patti can't write if she is given a long deadline, but if she has to turn things out in a day, or a few hours, she gets it done right away.  That is exactly the way I write.  Don't tell me I have 3 weeks to get it to you.  Tell me you need it in 3 hours and I'll be able to produce it for you!

Today, Jeri called.  Jeri is one of my favorite people to discuss theater with.  When we are at our respective shows over the weekend, we frequently send each other pictures.   Mine are of the covers of programs of the show I am reviewing, hers are from the musical score of the show she is playing.

We got into discussing the flaws of Les Miserables today because I had just finished writing a review.  It's one of those shows that I have just loved since I first saw it.  Jeri, too, remembers being so taken with it when she first saw it.  But she has played the show many times and I have reviewed the show many times and I fear the bloom is off the rose.  I look at the show now and see its flaws, how we never know what the students are fighting for (it's not the French Revolution, as many think), the scenes are truncated and choppy so there is rarely a smooth transition and we don't really know why what is happening on stage is happening, but isn't that a lovely song? And what the heck keeps Javert chasing a petty criminal for decades?  What fuels his hatred?

Fantine, as a principal star, is generally given the best looking costume of the factory workers, which is totally unbelievable in the context of the conditions under which she live and works (but we want to see Patti LuPone dressed nicely!)  The actress I saw recently was given a Harpo Marx/Shirley Temple wig that was totally out of context with her station in life.  All I could think was "no wonder the girls in the factory hate her!"

However, Jeri did clear up one thing for me.  The ludicrousness of it did not hit me until I saw the movie which had an overhead shot of this one little street in Paris, a very large contingent of the French Army lined up on horseback with their rifles and cannons, and a handful of students crouching behind a barricade expecting to kill them all.  How silly.  Well, it turns out that during the French Revolution, the layout for the city was such that if you blocked off one small street, you could literally prevent supplies from getting to the king and that was, in fact, how the rebels actually won.

BUT in the interim, grand boulevards had been built so if you couldn't do down this little side street to deliver the King's caviar, you just took it down the main street.  It makes that little complaint I had about the story much more understandable, but no less silly.

Anyway, we had a really nice chat while she was on her way to the theater where she is playing The Adams Family tonight.  I love for chats like those.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Stealing

61. Do you like current pop stars?
I don't know any current pop stars.  Everybody sounds the same, but then I listen to very little pop music these days.

62. What is your least favorite chore?

All of them (I'm lucky that Walt does so many)

63. Last place you drove your car?

To visit my mother, 5 minutes away, in her senior living facility.

64. Ever been out of the country?

Many times since 1989.  Last time was last year to Ukraine (while it was still tourist-friendly, sort of).  In the fall we are going to Paris and the South of France.

65. Where were you the last time you used a public bathroom?

Hmmm...where have I been lately? Probably at one of the rest stops on the way home from Santa Barbara.

66. Could you handle being in the military?

Sure.  Can they use a fat 71 year old completely out of shape grandmother with a permanent bend to her back and vision in only one eye?

67. What is your average cell phone bill?

I don't know; Walt pays the bills, but we never run over our basic service plan.

68. Who or what are you thinking about right now?

The show we just saw tonight, Maple and Vine, by Jordan Harrison, which I have to write a review of tomorrow.

69. When was the last time you laughed REALLY hard?

It's been so long I can't remember.

70. How many pairs of shoes do you own?

I don't know exactly, but I'm not a shoe person.  I really only wear two different shoes, one a pair of Birkenstocks, and one some black SAS shoes that I can use for walking or more dressy (though they are not dressy at all...more clunky, old lady shoes) 

71. Are your toes always painted?

They have been painted exactly once -- for my sister-in-law's wedding.

72. How many piercings do you have?

Two.  One in each ear lobe.  Got them in 1967.

73. What are you doing today?

I already did it.  Went to take my mother's pills for next week to her, and then went to Sacramento to see Maple and Vine (good show).

74. Have you ever been gambling?

Yes, but not willingly.  I am a very unlucky gambler and usually just watch others play.  If I try to play, I always lose. Even when someone insists on giving me a cup of coins for the slot machine, I will warn them that I will lose it all, but they insist...and I do.  But I have been to casinos in Reno, Lake Tahoe, Las Vegas and Atlantic City with people who do like to gamble.

75. When is the last time you updated your blog?

Well.  Right now, as soon as I post this.  Before that, yesterday (I update daily and have been doing that for nearly 15 years)

76. Do you like roller coasters?

I am a first class wimp.  I have only been on tame roller coasters maybe 3 times (one of those the Matterhorn at Disneyland, which shows you how "wild" I'll get).  I hated it every times

77. Have you ever been to Disneyland or world?, yes;, no.

78. Do you have a favorite cartoon character?

Lisa Simpson

79. Last thing you cooked?

I made an "Impossible Tuna Pie" last night.

80. How's the weather?

Hot, but bearable.

81. Do you e-mail more than snail mail?

I used to, but since I have very, very few people to e-mail to now and I'm doing a lot of swapping through Swap Bot, I probably send more snail mail these days.

82. What's the funniest picture you ever took with your cell phone?

I don't take a lot of pictures with my cell phone, and I frequently transfer them to my desktop so I can use them in this journal, so I don't currently have really funny pictures, but I do love this picture of Lacie with "bed head"
BedHead.jpg (36415 bytes)

83. Last time you were sick?
I can't remember.  It's been a very long time.

84. What states have you lived in?

Only California

85. Do you wish you could move? would mean cleaning up!

86. Do you take a lot of quizzes?

Always Sunday Stealing, lots of those "What XXX would you be" quizzes on Facebook, and occasionally I'll do a non-Sunday Stealing meme.

87. What is your dream car?

I dunno.  I like the one I have now.  (2014 Honda Accord)

88. Have you ever wanted someone you can't have?

Sure.  My very first crush was on our local parish priest.

89. If you could be anywhere right now where would it be?

Sipping a cool drink on the veranda of some game preserve lodge in Africa somewhere, watching elephants come to a nearby watering hole.

90. Are you happy with your life?

Things could always be improved, but overall, I'm content.  My assessment based on this Sunday Stealing:  I am a pretty boring person!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

How to Choose

"How did you choose the book you read yesterday?" Walt asked this morning. 

I could see it was a logical question.  "Talk Before Sleep" (by Elizabeth Berg) did seem like kind of an odd choice, since most of what he sees me reading are mysteries or crime dramas.  I started to explain how I came to choose that book and he said "that would make a good journal entry."

So here it is.  How I choose the books I read at Logos each week.

I will repeat that when I began working at the used book store, I decided I would use the vast resources available to me and try to read a book every work day.  I also decided that I would NOT read a book on my Kindle because I thought that was bad PR for a book store.  I discovered that I could read a book of over 100 pages, and as my speed picked up, I could read a book of about 200 pages or a little over in my four hours at the store.  I am in my third year volunteering at Logos and the books I have read in the three years have been as varied as those "my friend" buys when he comes in each week.

The very first book I read was about the Australian acubra hat, which I chose was Australia and that subject interests me, and my friend Olivia had purchased an acubra had when she was there and was quite proud of it.  I have read such varied titles as "Lucy" (a novel about a half woman/half ape), "California's Golden Age" (about classic buildings built in the 1930s), "The Pretty Women of Paris" (a guide to the prostitutes of Paris in the mid 1800s), "The Death of Manolete" (about the famous bullfighter, which I chose because the book I'd read the previous week was "My Reading Life" by Pat Conroy in which he detailed some of his favorite books and he RAVED about the Manolete book.  We may have had differing opinions on it!), "Driving Mr. Albert" (about driving Albert Einstein's brain across the country), "Fried Eggs with Chopsticks" (a woman's tour across China), "A Town Like Alice" (Nevil Shute's classic novel), "More than Petticoats" (about famous women in California), "Heaven is for Real" (the little kid who died and went to heaven. Schlocky book! Worse of the lot.), "Cesar's Way" (Milan's dog training book), as well as several mysteries, travel journals, and books about animals.

To tell you  the truth, I was a little surprised myself when I started compiling the above list, to see the diversity of the titles.   When I don't feel like reading a book, I look through a cookbook.  And while I used to buy books I didn't finish, now I just take them home and bring them back the next week.  I still buy more than I should, though lately they are more children's books than adult books.

So how do I choose a book to read on my work day?   I start by thinking of what genre I feel like reading. Nine times out of ten it's crime drama so I check that bookcase.  It has to be a book of not more than 220 pages using a font that my eyes can handle.  The Ellis Peters books (Cadfael mysteries), for example, are the right length but generally too small a print, though I did read one of them on one of my work days.  Then I check the summary of the book and if it doesn't appeal to me, I'll move on to another genre.

Travel is usually the next genre I choose.  There are some great books about living in Italy or England or the more exotic tales, like the one about traveling across China as a single woman (that book taught me I don't ever want to ride a bus from city to city in China!).  They also don't sell quickly, so if I don't finish a book, I just put a bookmark in it and 99% of the time it's there when I go back the next week and I can pick up where I left off.

I sometimes check the California or San Francisco history section, may glance at SciFi/Fantasy, always check the music and theater section (though that is pretty skimpy) and look at the old book shelves.  A lot of the "old books" are books I remember fondly from my childhood and adolescence, but most of them are now in too small a print for me, so though I may flip through them, I almost never choose one for my Thursday read.  I was thrilled one day to find several Albert Peyson Terhune books on the shelf.  I loved all of his books about collies and considered buying one...and then realized that these were books that I had given to Logos because they were duplicates of books I already had.  Duhhh.

Sometimes I check out biographies, but invariably those are way too long for a one-day read, and I get into trouble because if it is a biography I think I'd like, I just buy it instead, so it's a good idea to stay away from biographies!

Yesterday I decided to check Contemporary Fiction, which I almost never do.  I don't know why.  I thought I might read a Maeve Binchy book.   I do like her books, particularly the ones set in Ireland.  There were two Binchy books on the shelf, neither of which was set in Ireland and both of which were too long for a one-day read, but next to the Binchy books was that little book by Elizabeth Berg.  It was the quote from the book that hooked me:  "Until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I'd been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to."  The quote spoke to me so strongly.  It was 209 pages long and I had finished all but the last 10 when Walt came to pick me up, so I finished it at home.

And that is how I came to choose the book I read this week.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Today at Logos

Today was kind of an unusual day at Logos, mostly because Sandy had a dental appointment (with Cindy, I discovered) and so had to leave the store at 12:45, which meant I needed to be there at 12:45 instead of 2.  Susan said nobody should have to work more than 4 hours, so she relieved me at 4:45.

My first customer was a man who bought a Ruth Rendell book and we talked a bit about Rendell, since I have only recently discovered her as an author.   He tells me she also writes more psychological thrillers under the name Barbara Something (I later checked the internet and found out it's Barbara Vine).

After I talked with him, I decided to get another Rendell book to read while there, but the two we had left were thicker than the previous ones I'd read and one was a sequel to the other, so I decided to read something not in the mystery/crime vein and chose a book called "Talk Before Sleep," which is a not really maudlin story of the friendship among women, two in particular, one of whom is dying of cancer.  Very good and I assume accurate account of how the final weeks go and how the women join together to help the woman who is dying.  And as I said, it's not really maudlin and downright irreverent in spots.

Woman came in looking for books by John Green, whose name I didn't recognize right away until she said it was for her daughter and it was something about "fault in our stars" (another book about dying from cancer!)  I told her that was one of the most popular young adult (and regular adult!) books right now and with the opening of the new movie, I was 100% convinced we did not have it as a used book, but sent her to the young adult section anyway to check...then, when she was unsuccessful, I suggested she try The Avid Reader to see if they had a new book.

An exotic looking woman (kind of like you would think of a gypsy) came in, looking for poetry books.  She had long curly-ish dark hair, a long-ish black skirt with a fringe, and a brightly colored scarf covered her shirt, so I never got a good look at that.  She didn't stay long and left without buying anything.

Then this old guy in shorts, short-sleeved shirt and safari hat, leaning heavily on his cane came in and started talking.  And talking.  And talking.  He must have been there nearly half an hour, telling me his whole life story, the story of his father who never graduated from high school, but who at his death had employees all over the world.  He obviously worshipped his father.  His mother is now 91 and still able to live independently, but he worries about her because she lives in Sparks, Nevada and in the winter if something were to happen to her he would have to fly to help her because even though he lives in the foothills (Grass Valley), he won't drive in snow.  The old guy told me he is 70.  Sigh.  I told him about Atria and gave him contact information to get more information (though he would do better with a place in Sacramento, closer to him).  I found out he lived in Grass Valley when I asked if he lived in Davis.  Turns out he drives down here twice a week to walk in the arboretum.

Customers were piling up, so I took care of them, while he talked with a woman who had come in with her son.  They were talking about credit card scams and she was sharing that she was from Willits and that there is a serious drug problem in that small town now.

It was an interesting half hour, but I have to admit I was glad when he left.  There was a woman who came in with her two sons and seemed to be waiting until he stopped talking to ask me something, but her kids started looking at books and she didn't make an attempt to talk with me, but eventually told her kids to put the books back and left with the two books she had in her hand.

Later, when he was finally gone, she returned, with the two books.  They were old books and she wanted to know, based on my expertise, if they were worth anything because they had belonged to her grandmother and she was tired of dusting them! I explained that I had no expertise in this area, that I was a 4-hour-a-week volunteer and suggested she come back and talk with Peter.

A woman with an adorable little girl, who looked to be about 3-4 years old.  She was wearing a bathing suit with a blouse over it and a pink necklace with lots of bling.  They were in the children's room for a very long time and finally the little girl came out and thrust 22 books into my lap.  Many of them were beginning reader books and when I asked if she could read, she loudly told me "YES!"   She also told me about the fire engine she had seen downtown before coming into the store.

Bruce came in, without his hat this time (it was looking pretty ratty when I last saw him.  It will be interesting to see how long it takes him to make a new one).  He was carrying two empty paper bags, perhaps in acknowledgement that next month we will have to charge if a customer wants a bag.   But he didn't buy anything and left without saying hello (or good bye)

Another mother and her son came in.  He went right to the children's room and she headed for the Literature section, but neither stayed long or bought anything.

An older woman was thrilled to find a very nice book of nursery rhymes for only $8.64.

A couple of high school students came in and, I have to admit that my prejudices were surprised when they did not bring me the "Twilight" trilogy, but purchased a book of Ezra Pound poems, Shakespeare's "Coriolanus" and "Wuthering Heights."

Another couple came in, a short rotund guy with horn rimmed glasses, a plaid shirt and Birkenstocks was with a shorter, thinner girl dressed all in electric blue.  He looked too old to be her boyfriend, but too young to be her father.  He reminded me of Jonah Hill.  But they left without buying anything.

The next guy who came in is a regular, like Bruce and "my friend."  I decided he needed a name so I'm going to call him the Troubadour in future entries because he looks a little like Pete Seeger, but with a much longer beard, and much taller (and younger -- Pete Seeger is my mother's age!).   He wears that ubiquitous cap and always has a sack slung over his shoulder.   Today he spent a lot of time looking through the music section.  But he didn't buy anything today.

An Indian woman (India Indian) bought a Sci Fi anthology and a guy came in looking for a job.  When I told him we are all volunteers, he said he needs a roof over his head, so he's sorry he couldn't volunteer.

Another guy came in, saying he had an official "resale number" which meant that he didn't have to pay tax.  It looked official, so I let him get away with the six books he bought.  I hope that was right.

A mother and her son came in and looked at the Spanish books, but didn't buy anything.

An old guy wanted Sudoku books and I referred him to the Avid Reader.

I had been perfectly happy leaving the front door open to let the fresh air in and was not aware of the temperature in the store until someone complained of the heat (which nobody ever does, but me!), so I closed the front door and turned on the a/c.

Knowing Susan was going to relieve me early, I wondered if my friend would get there in time, which he did, at 4:35.  He bought two books, one from the bargain table (and I forgot to note the name of it), and a book with 3 mysteries by Gore Vidal in it.  Susan arrived as he was leaving and I pointed him out to her, but she doesn't know him either, so until I decide whether it's time to ask him his name, he will forever remain "my friend" to me and a stranger to everyone else.

Walt and I were in the car, headed home by 5 p.m., which seemed strange.  I had about 20 pages left in the book I was reading today, so brought it home and finished it while waiting for Jeopardy to start.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Take 2 Books and Call Me in the Morning

According to an article in The Telegraph (London?) reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce your stress level by two thirds.
And it works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea, research found.

Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.

The research was carried out on a group of volunteers by consultancy Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.
Jeez.  If this is true, I must be I comatose, especially the last couple of days.

I know there are people who do not read.  I gave birth to some of them.  I am married to one of them (it may take him a year to read a book).   I was fathered by a man who once read "Away All Boats" and decided he didn't need to read another book in his life.

But I don't understand these people.  I know they are good, intelligent people who probably accomplish a lot more than I do because they don't waste their time sitting in a chair reading, but I am as compulsive about reading as I am about watching television.  I can't imagine my life without a book by my side at all times. I have been a compulsive reader ever since I learned to read.

I remember the first time I babysat at a house with no books.   There were book cases filled with knick knacks but there were no books.  I had forgotten to bring something to read and just assumed I'd pick up a book while there. I was convinced they must be hiding them.  Whoever heard of a house without books?   But no, there was not a single book to be had in the house.  It was a whole new world for me.  A bookless house.

Because of books, I rarely get upset if I have to wait in a long line somewhere.  I always have a book (or my kindle) in my purse and I take that line as a time to read.  I get a lot of reading done at intermission of plays I am reviewing. It doesn't bother me if Walt decides to stop and pick up something at the store or visit the ATM while I sit in the car, because it gives me a chance to read another page or two in my book.  I'm kind of upset when I go to the dentist or doctor, or stop by Blood Source to donate blood and I do not have to wait because it deprives me of a time to read a few pages of my book.

I'm so compulsive about reading that I keep an "emergency book" in the car and it's not even the book I'm currently into, but just a thing with printed pages that I can pick up if I have somehow left my current book at home and find myself with a few minutes with nothing to do.  It will probably take me a year or more to finish that book, while I will finish many others that don't permanently live in the car.  If I don't have my current book with me and for some reason don't have an emergency book, I have been known to read the car's manual just to give me something to read.

With the advent of modern technology, I have choices of how I want to read a book.  I can read it as a hold-in-your-hand book, or a Kindle book, or I can read on my iPad or I can listen on my iPod.  I know I should read real books, but the advantage of an e-book, when you get to a certain age, is that you can make the print bigger.  I sometimes look at the books at Logos that I might want to read and the print is so tiny that I know I would never be able to read it.

The latest Diana Gabaldon book, "Written in My Heart's Own Blood," has me making best use of technology.  When I went to visit Bill the other day, I knew I would have two blissful hours in the car when I could listen to the book, because I had it as an audio book, but also as an e-book.  Too impatient to know the whole story, I had been reading on my Kindle where I can read faster, but I love listening to Davina Porter read the book too. In fact, when I finish reading the book, I will probably go back and listen to the audio book, where I will pick up more details because I won't be skipping over battle scenes to get to the personal scenes more quickly.

I sat here with my iPad and my iPod and I fast forwarded through the iPod trying to find the spot where I had been reading on my iPad.  The iPad has a feature where you can search for words or phrases, so I would listen on the iPod for a phrase and then search for it on the iPad so I could see how much farther I had to advance the audio book to catch up with the iPad (god, my mother would go nuts if I tried to explain this to her!).  But I did manage to sync the two machines up and then when I got home, found where I was on the iPod audio book on the iPad e-book so I could start reading again.  Only since I prefer to read on the Kindle rather than on the iPad, I then synced the two machines together so I could catch up on the Kindle.  

For the past two days I have done little but sit in the recliner reading the Gabaldon book (which is >1000 pages, so it can't be dashed off in a day).   Late yesterday afternoon, the Kindle let me know that the battery was low, so I leaped up, plugged it in to recharge and continued reading on the iPad so I would be able to follow the story during the time when the Kindle was out of commission.

Yes, it's a sickness of sorts, but a benign one.  And heck, if reading only 6 minutes can reduce my stress level by a third, what must reading all day long for days on end do for me?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Photo Challenge

I saw a blog challenge today.  It was to take a photo album and choose the first photo in which you appear, scan it, and talk about it.

Well....this house is photo album city and they are either up too high for me to reach, or upstairs, for the most part (and I didn't have that much energy tonight), but I did take out an album recently that was from 1960 so I decided to take a photo out of it.

luau.jpg (54361 bytes)

This was taken at a luau in Hawaii, right after I graduated from high school.  It's my grandmother, my mother, our tour guide, and me.  There are a few things to talk about regarding this photo!

We were not people who traveled, but my godmother, who died a couple of years before I graduated, had left me a bit of money.  My plan, when I graduated from high school, was to enter the convent, so my mother suggested that we take the money and go on a trip to Hawaii, so I would have something special to remember once I got behind convent walls.  My grandmother decided to accompany us because she adored Hawaii and had been there two times before. (My father did NOT accompany us because he hated travel and never visited any state but California and Nevada in his lifetime, never rode on an airplane.)

We decided we would fly over and take the ocean liner Lurline back, so we could extend our vacation by the 5 days it would take for the crossing.

Our tour guide was a nice Hawaiian guy named Vern who took our group all over the island and we did all the touristy things -- the Kodak Show, a catamaran ride, an orchid farm, a broadcast of the radio show "Hawaii Calls" (when I fell in love with the golden voice of Haunani Kahelewai, whose recordings you can't find any more) etc., etc., etc.  We had free time too and spent an evening with my chemistry teacher's family.  I didn't know until then that Sister Mary Alice's name had been Wilma Kop in her pre-religious life.  Her family owned a Chinese restaurant and they ALL came out to meet us, though only her brother, it seems, could speak English.  We took over the top floor of the restaurant and had one of the best Chinese meals I've ever had.

My grandmother didn't go with us to the dinner and we were thrilled because by the middle of our first week, spending time with her was becoming wearing.   A dinner with her in San Francisco could be wearing.  A week out of San Francisco could become unbearable. My mother and I figured before we left home that we could spell each other when she got too much to take.

The luau was one of our last things to do in Waikiki and I don't remember much about it except that I had "lomi lomi salmon" and I loved it...not realizing I was eating raw fish (the first of lots of raw fish I have eaten over the years!).  I also learned about one-finger, two-finger, and three-finger poi (depending on how thick it was).  

When I look at this photo I remember what one of my biggest worries at that point is my hair.  Until I graduated from high school, my mother took care of my hair.  She always set it and brushed it out.  Before we left on this trip I had it cut short, in preparation for the convent, but my mother still took care of it for me.  I was terrified of what would happen when I went into the convent because for the first six months, before I got my veil, I would have an uncovered head and I was not worried about convent rules, or the heat in St. Louis in the summer, or anything else--I was just worried about how I was going to set my hair because I had never done it.   Should have given me some clue as to the sincerity of my "vocation."

After the luau we sadly said goodbye to Vern, with whom we had become quite close.

We left on the Lurline, laden with leis from Sister Mary Alice's family (which we had to throw overboard right away because the scent of the plumaria was so strong in our stateroom, it was making me sick).

The cruise home was a HUGE mistake.  A cruise might not have been bad at the start of two weeks with my grandmother, but at the end of it, it was brutal...and we found out that an ocean liner isn't nearly big enough to hide when she wants to find you.

But we did survive, we returned to San Francisco and I did not go into the convent, but I didn't regret spending the money on the trip.  

I don't know how, but somehow my grandmother learned a year or so later that Vern had gone through sexual reassignment surgery.